Shifting winds in the climate change debate

Jul 10, 2013 by Steven Powell
Shifting winds in the climate change debate

(Phys.org) —A favorite beach. Homes along the river or coast. Crop yields that sustain the populace.

These are just some of the things that climate changes are threatening, and scientists are beginning to focus on three essential questions about how to prepare for our planet's future.

The first: How long will we be able to successfully adapt to new ? With some beaches, for example, bringing in more sand and building jetties will be pointless if the rises beyond a certain point.

The second: What will happen when the risks that climate changes pose become intolerable? The owner of a riverfront house that must be reclassified as being in a flood zone might want to sell – but who would she sell to, and what effect would the reclassification have on the price it might fetch?

The third: When will the risks to crops under changing conditions become so great that farmers without insurance will want to find new livelihoods, or simply accept the real possibility that their yields might not be enough?

Those are some of the questions that University of South Carolina geography professor Kirstin Dow wants the greater public to begin to talk about.

Policy-makers have recognized that the notion the world will reduce anytime soon is unlikely, according to Dow. "We're clearly moving toward an approach of adapting to new conditions and managing risks," she said.

"Is it possible to protect everything we value through adaptation? The answer likely appears to be no," Dow said. "We expect that, in some situations, risks will push people to give up many things that they value very highly. Or many things we value highly will be placed at unacceptable risks."

In a commentary in Nature Climate Change, she and an international team of colleagues argue that "we need to both develop a clearer understanding of the limits of adaptation and anticipate the debates we'll encounter when people are confronted with major changes to their lifestyles."

"We've only recently begun a conversation to seriously look at adaptation within climate change," Dow said. "For a long time it wasn't discussed, because of the fear that if you gave people an out, they wouldn't focus on mitigation – reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"But as the degree of change and the rate of emissions continue to grow, the significance of the need to adapt – and for some people, the imperative to adapt – has become more immediate. And so that conversation has opened up."

Dow and colleagues are demonstrating the connections between the emerging discussions of adaptation and adaptation limits by using the well-established discipline of risk management. They clearly define a critical point in adaptation: the level at which a person or group deems a risk intolerable.

"Beginning from an understanding of how societies respond to risk, researchers need to come to better understand where those adaptation thresholds or limits might be – we're not real sure where they are right now," Dow said. "We think if we could better anticipate them, we could inform better strategies and, drawing on other lessons from risk management debates, prepare for deliberative process in society, civil engagement about choices that have to be made."

The scientists are trying to move the public debate toward addressing as a risk management issue, but with a broad perspective. "We need to fully embrace the concept of risk," Dow said. "There's an actuarial kind of risk that insurance companies use – household damage in dollars from a hundred-year flood, for example – but the whole history of , scientifically and intellectually, recognizes that the public definition of what's an 'acceptable' or 'tolerable' or 'intolerable' risk is much broader than property loss."

Take a beachfront community that's been the family destination for two generations as an example. Originally built well removed from the shore, the owners might sense that risks from incoming storms are acceptable or tolerable. But rising sea levels will eventually erode confidence, and at some point the owners might experience a rude awakening of serious doubt about the value and future of their properties. "If we could better anticipate what is intolerable, could we make the process of change occur more smoothly?" Dow said.

"Adaptation and change engage questions of things that are very difficult to value, like favorite beaches, cultural and environmental loss, questions about fairness, and whether the risk is voluntary or not."

Dow noted that small island states in the Pacific Ocean and parts of the U.S. are already preparing for dramatic changes. "In some places, people are already planning to abandon their island nations. In Louisiana, they're experiencing things like watching the shorelines erode and wash their cemeteries into the ocean."

"These are the kinds of questions that we're going to have to begin to think about."

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dogbert
2 / 5 (21) Jul 10, 2013
The continued concern about CO2 diverts attention from the very real need to address population growth. No one is talking about that because the political will is committed to redistribution of resources.
Kiwini
2.3 / 5 (18) Jul 10, 2013
Yup.

And it's far easier to impose a "tax" on CO2 than it would be create a birth tax.
rikvanriel
2.4 / 5 (17) Jul 10, 2013
Recently several papers have been published that show how increased CO2 has increased plant growth. It will be interesting to see at what CO2 level the benefit to plant growth stops making a real difference, and what the best level for agriculture would be...
shavera
3.6 / 5 (17) Jul 10, 2013
As someone in the Midwest, I cannot imagine how any amount of increased growth from CO2 balances against the ongoing drought/flood cycle induced from climate change and changing jet stream patterns. What good is more growth when you can't get seed in the ground or water to plants?
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (13) Jul 10, 2013
Don't worry Shavera. Republicans tell me that they will be growing wheat and corn on bare rock. Soil and water just won't be needed in the future.
MR166
2.1 / 5 (21) Jul 10, 2013
So VD you are claiming that the Republicans are behind the Ethanol Scam!!!!

As the AGW propaganda mill grinds to a halt due to the lack of temperature and sea level change perhaps we can concentrate on the real problems such as expensive energy and lack of jobs.
freeiam
2.1 / 5 (15) Jul 10, 2013
The continued concern about CO2 diverts attention from the very real need to address population growth. No one is talking about that because the political will is committed to redistribution of resources.


Some wise words.
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (11) Jul 10, 2013
"So VD you are claiming that the Republicans are behind the Ethanol Scam!!!!" - MR000

The Corporation Archer Daniels Midland has been pushing that path for decades.

Do you think Corporations can be trusted?

"As the AGW propaganda mill grinds to a halt due to the lack of temperature and sea level change" - Mr000

Lots of sulfate aerosols being produced in the Pacific Rim.
gregor1
1.8 / 5 (20) Jul 10, 2013
Don't worry Shavera. Higher C02 levels appear to increase the tolerance of crops to drought stress. In fact, many would argue that we are now coming out of a 5 million year Co2 drought that will benefit the entire biosphere.
http://co2science...1/B1.php
VendicarE
3.8 / 5 (16) Jul 10, 2013
"Don't worry Shavera. Higher C02 levels appear to increase the tolerance of crops to drought stress." - GregorTard

Plants, not crops. Most crops are not C4 plants.

Poor GregorTard. He will never understand science. It is too nuanced for his primitive ape like brain.

GregorTard is seemingly unaware of the fact that the current drought conditions are not being mitigated by the reduced water consumption imparted by current elevations in CO2 level.

He is quite Mindless.
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (18) Jul 11, 2013
"Those are some of the questions that University of South Carolina geography professor Kirstin Dow wants the greater public to begin to talk about."

Oops, Global Warming forgot about South Carolina!

http://www.ncdc.n...mp;div=0

Argh, the claimed recent sea level surge forgot about it too:

http://www.psmsl..../234.php

Damn boring charts: NO TREND CHANGE AT ALL. No trend at all in temperature as in NO WARMING IN A CENTURY. I hear it's hiding in the deep ocean!
NikFromNYC
1.5 / 5 (17) Jul 11, 2013
In October, when no heating or A/C taints thermometer stations, South Carolina where million dollar level grant recipient, IPCC author and environmental activist Kirstin Dow lives has been cooling for a century:

http://www.ncdc.n...mp;div=0

An Amazon.com review of her book about "Mapping The World's Greatest Challenge" reveals just how seriously the predicted destruction of the biosphere is treated:

""Concerns over safety and long term storage of rad waste remain and it is not clear that its potential as an adaptation to climate change offers sufficiently strong justification to overcome economic barriers."

And so nuclear energy quickly gets buried by these authors, never to return again in this title. No sources are cited for this justification. No maps/statistics of countries with successful nuclear energy programs like France and Japan."
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (18) Jul 11, 2013
Dow says: "In Louisiana, they're experiencing things like watching the shorelines erode and wash their cemeteries into the ocean."

The longest running tide gauge in Louisiana is Grande Isle of New Orleans and it shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off:

http://www.psmsl..../526.php

The person in the world most privy to this information is IPCC author Kirstin Dow. In fact, the *vast* majority of tide gauge records across the globe show utterly no trend change in recent decades:

http://s23.postim...andy.gif

djr
4 / 5 (8) Jul 12, 2013

The longest running tide gauge in Louisiana is Grande Isle of New Orleans and it shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off:

http://www.psmsl..../526.php



So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way. So even Nik's cherry picked tide gauge supports the rest of the data - showing that ocean levels are increasing. But Nik insists there is no data to support global warming....
derfolo
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 13, 2013

The longest running tide gauge in Louisiana is Grande Isle of New Orleans and it shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off:

http://www.psmsl..../526.php



So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way. So even Nik's cherry picked tide gauge supports the rest of the data - showing that ocean levels are increasing. But Nik insists there is no data to support global warming....


I looked at it too. It clearly shows rising, just click his link. Is he unable to decipher a line moving upward over time?

runrig
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 13, 2013

The longest running tide gauge in Louisiana is Grande Isle of New Orleans and it shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off:

http://www.psmsl..../526.php



So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way. So even Nik's cherry picked tide gauge supports the rest of the data - showing that ocean levels are increasing. But Nik insists there is no data to support global warming....


I looked at it too. It clearly shows rising, just click his link. Is he unable to decipher a line moving upward over time?



Yep, only seeing what they want to see. Was prob standing on his head.
Neinsense99
2 / 5 (12) Jul 13, 2013

The longest running tide gauge in Louisiana is Grande Isle of New Orleans and it shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off:

http://www.psmsl..../526.php



So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way. So even Nik's cherry picked tide gauge supports the rest of the data - showing that ocean levels are increasing. But Nik insists there is no data to support global warming....


I looked at it too. It clearly shows rising, just click his link. Is he unable to decipher a line moving upward over time?


Perhaps he lives on a hill somewhere.
Egleton
1.4 / 5 (12) Jul 14, 2013
No man can see evidence that he is paid not to.
Big Carbon has the deniers baught and paid for. The rest are Stalin's "useful idiots".
Claudius
1.8 / 5 (15) Jul 14, 2013


So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way.


Keep in mind that since the levees were built, the Mississippi River has been prevented from flooding and changing course, preventing sediment from depositing, resulting in subsidence of the delta. It isn't that the sea level has increased, but the land is subsiding.
Neinsense99
2.2 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2013


So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way.


Keep in mind that since the levees were built, the Mississippi River has been prevented from flooding and changing course, preventing sediment from depositing, resulting in subsidence of the delta. It isn't that the sea level has increased, but the land is subsiding.

You are correct, for the most part, in that specific area, on the problem with silt deposition and sinking/eroding land. That does not mean that there is no sea level rise there, or anywhere else.
runrig
5 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2013


So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way.


Keep in mind that since the levees were built, the Mississippi River has been prevented from flooding and changing course, preventing sediment from depositing, resulting in subsidence of the delta. It isn't that the sea level has increased, but the land is subsiding.


Gave you 5 for that Claudius. As I think you are correct. However the point is the example was posted to highlight a static situation.
djr
4.2 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2013
Claudius - how are you not able to understand this really fundamental point? Each time a piece of data is presented - you go scrambling to find counter data - and an explanation that proves that the climate is not warming. Now that is called confirmation bias. I practice confirmation bias. I look for articles, and data that supports my position. I believe that most on this board do the same thing. Here is a difference - my confirmation bias is in line with the majority opinion of the scientific community. I understand that you will now argue that this means I am not able to think for myself - relying on 'authority' Here is an analogy - there is a group of folks out there who believe that vaccines cause autism. They have very compelling arguments - and even profess to have data to support their claim. I have read their claims - and am not able to refute their data myself - it is too complex. The medical community has looked at their data - and has shown that they are (cont).
djr
4.2 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2013
(cont.) in fact falsifying their data. This of course does not discourage them - and they are still convinced that there is a global cover up in the medical community.

It seems very clear to me that you are like the vaccers - you have decided on a conclusion - and will twist yourself in knots to support your conclusion - even when it is 180 degrees from the majority science position.

Here is a graph of global sea levels for the past 140 years. http://en.wikiped...EPA).png
Oysteroid
1 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2013

The longest running tide gauge ... shows not a steepening of sea level trend but a leveling off


So I looked at Nik's link - and it has a nice graph - showing a 60 year trend - and it slopes up all the way. So even Nik's cherry picked tide gauge supports the rest of the data - showing that ocean levels are increasing.

I quoted the first respondent only, the others just followed.

The point is: do you guys know or understand what the "steepening" and the "leveling off" of the trend means? You are gloating over your own misunderstanding of the simplest scientific terms (does "first derivative" even ring a bell? I doubt it.)

And, after that demonstrated lack of scientific knowledge and elementary understanding, you go ahead and practice in your infantile kind of sarcasm and "humor".

No wonder the "alarmists" are so thoroughly discredited in the true scientific community.
djr
5 / 5 (5) Jul 14, 2013
Yes Oysteroid - i understand what a leveling off means. Nick from NY, Claudius et al are constantly arguing with us that there is no warming trend. It gets tedious. So when Nick references a graph that clearly shows the opposite of what he ties himself in knots trying to prove - we point it out - sadly nothing seems to change.
Claudius
1 / 5 (12) Jul 14, 2013
Nick from NY, Claudius et al are constantly arguing with us that there is no warming trend.


I think you agreed that there had been no significant atmospheric warming recently, and were including oceanic warming to show an overall warming trend for the last decade or so.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2013
"I think you agreed that there had been no significant atmospheric warming recently," - ClaudiusTard

There is NEVER any significant atmospheric warming RECENTLY, because RECENTLY precludes any warming or cooling from being SIGNIFICANT.

Poor Tardieboy. He just don't get it.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2013
"Here is a graph of global sea levels for the past 140 years. http://en.wikiped...EPA).png" - dir

Look. I have stood on my head all day and your graph never shows anything but a downward slope.

And besides, that graph shows a dramatic drop in ocean levels for the people of Australia where we all know that our up is their down.

VendicarE
5 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2013
"I looked at it too. It clearly shows rising, just click his link. Is he unable to decipher a line moving upward over time?" - Foofie

Correct. NikkieTard can't distinguish up from down.

In the past he has claimed to be a scientist. Perhaps he intended to say Scientologist.
djr
4.8 / 5 (5) Jul 15, 2013
Claudius: "I think you agreed that there had been no significant atmospheric warming recently, and were including oceanic warming to show an overall warming trend for the last decade or so."

The data clearly shows a plateau in surface temperatures over the past 15 - 20 years. There was a 40 year plateau between 1940 and 1980. But look at the sea levels over the past 140 years - http://en.wikiped...EPA).png

Also - look at the ice sheet data, the glacier data, the ocean temperature data. Can you find me any significant climate indicator that does not support the premise that over the past 100 years - our climate has been warming?. Is it not cherry picking/confirmation bias to select one factor (the factor that has shown a tendency to be very step wise) and to scream - "looky, looky, there is no warming?"
runrig
5 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2013
.....(does "first derivative" even ring a bell? I doubt it.)


ERR....
Do you not think that unlikely - given this is a science site.
A least on the "consensus" side.

Maths is generally quite a useful tool in science you know.